Virginia Tech Still Reeling From Deadly Shooting Massacre
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images file
A police investigator carries a bag of evidence underneath crime scene tape outside Norris Hall on Wednesday.
Image: Bill Dedman
By Bill Dedman Investigative reporter
msnbc.com
updated 4/20/2007 5:12:07 PM ET 2007-04-20T21:12:07

"There's no new information left," an exhausted spokesman for Virginia Tech, Larry Hincker, told reporters on Thursday.

But there remain many questions about the events leading up to Monday's shooting. Here are some of them, many of them drawn from reader e-mails sent to MSNBC.com.

These are not the larger questions. And these are not about the victims or healing. They are the smaller questions of fact, smaller questions that may help us understand the path to violence that took the lives of five professors, 27 students, and one gunman.

Early years
Seung-Hui Cho's writings seem to make several references to standing up (violently) for victims of sexual abuse . Is there a history here?

A vein of hostility against rich kids runs through the writings. What were the economic circumstances of Cho's family?

Student
A senior just a few weeks from graduation, was he passing all his courses and on track to graduate? Had he made any preparations for graduation?

(We did get one answer Wednesday evening: The university announced that students who died on Monday will receive posthumous degrees at commencement. Later, anticipating the question, a university spokesman said, no, Cho will not receive a degree.)

Roommate
Why would a senior be assigned to a dorm room at all? Was he just not able to or interested, in finding someone to join with to request a room?

Mental health
When Cho was referred for evaluation, how extensive was the testing?

Was he prescribed any medication? Did he take it? His autopsy has been completed, officials say; what was the result of the toxicology screen?

Influences
What's the true origin of the "Ismail Ax" scrawled on his arm, and used in his return address of his mailing to NBC? Is it a reference to the biblical story of sacrifice? Or Moby Dick? Or perhaps Daniel Quinn's novel, "Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit," which one reader told us is popular on college campuses and tells the tale of a gorilla that can communicate telepathically.

Many have seen similarities between his photos and the violent Korean film "Old Boy." Does anyone actually know that he saw the film? And doesn't the film have hardly any gunplay? (The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter suggests today that the films of John Woo actually have  much closer parallels.)

Is there an origin of Cho's self-given nickname, "Question Mark"?

What are Cho's Web site bookmarks?

Preparation
Cho had 17 clips of ammunition at Norris Hall, NBC's Pete Williams reports. The Washington Post said he bought the ammunition a little bit at a time, at different stores. Would it matter if ammunition purchases were recorded?

Hollow-point bullets are shown in Cho's photos. Were they used in the shootings?

What vehicle was he using to tape videos?

He practiced shooting at a gun range in Roanoke, NBC's Pete Williams has reported. How often?

Did authorities find any training manuals on weapons?

Monday
Did Cho have any connection with the first victims, Emily Jane Hilscher and resident adviser Ryan Clark? Was any student targeted?

(On Friday, police filed a search warrant for a laptop and cell phone used by one of the first victims, Hilscher, who was shot in a dormitory. According to the AP, "The computer would be one way the suspect could have communicated with the victim," the warrant said, but it offered no basis for a belief that Cho might have been in contact with her.)

Would security cameras at the doors of dormitories have prevented the later deaths at Norris Hall, by giving police investigators at the first shootings, in the West Ambler Johnston dorm, a video of a suspect? They might have known to shut down the campus. Instead, officers went off to interview Hilscher's boyfriend — they were talking to him when the 911 calls came for the second shooting. Has Virginia Tech been solicited by sellers of surveillance cameras?

What did Cho do in the two hours between the attacks, other than mail a package to NBC?

Was he scheduled to have a class on Monday morning in Norris Hall? Does anyone know why he chose Norris?

Family
What has been the family's reaction? (In a statement issued late Friday, Cho's sister said the family had no idea he was "capable of so much violence .") His parents have not met with university staff, an official said. The university would not say whether Cho's body has been released to his family.

What are your questions about Monday's shootings? You can send questions (or answers) to us at Bill.Dedman@MSNBC.com.

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